Trust, love, password sharing?

A strong password is a great way to prevent hackers and identity thieves from accessing your accounts. But what if you share it with someone you know? Many teens and young adults are giving passwords to friends or loved ones as a sign of trust or love. After all, sharing is caring, right? But what might seem like a milestone in a relationship can turn out to be a very harmful decision.

Think about it. If you give someone your password, they not only have access to your private information, they also can change your password and lock you out of your account completely. On social networks, anyone with your password can post on your behalf. Imagine what an ex-friend or ex-girlfriend/boyfriend could say (as you) and the damage it could cause to your reputation or job prospects.

While you’re keeping your passwords to yourself, no matter how great your friends and loved ones are, here are a few password tips to keep your accounts secure… from everyone:

Avoid the obvious. When choosing a password, don’t use names, dates, phone numbers, or anything someone could learn about you from a website or social media.

Be strong. A password with a minimum of 10-12 characters and a mix of letters, symbols, and numbers is harder to hack – and to guess. Worried about remembering it? Make up a phrase and turn it into your own acronym.  “I don’t share my online account passwords with anyone” becomes 1D$moapwwa. Don’t use movie quotes or song lyrics.

Be creative with answers to security questions. Anyone close to you might know things like your mother’s maiden name, or the elementary school you attended. Hackers also can find these facts using social media and other online searches. Try answering security questions that are more difficult and answering with full sentences, not a few words.

For more about keeping your accounts secure and protecting your passwords, read about computer security.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.